Just as there is with any hobby, there are a lot of words and terms that are thrown around in the homebrewing world that cause some confusion to people just starting out or are looking to progress in the hobby. Some of these are old words intended specifically for brewing, but I'm fairly certain some are just used so people in the know can feel smarter than the people just starting out. Well, here is a list of words and phrases that will familiarize you with the hobby so you can go into a conversation with a seasoned home brewing veteran and hold your own. Because of the length, I will be splitting this into two posts. Here is part 1:
Crush/Mill - to get at the sugary goodness inside the barley kernel it is necessary to crush it first using a mill to crack open the barley making sure not to crush it into fine powder.
Malt - the sugary goodness inside the grain is only starch when it is harvested, so the grain must be malted by soaking in warm water and tricked into sprouting. This process starts the natural enzymes in the grain to start converting starches to sugars. By drying them quickly the enzymes are halted and you get malted grain, also just called malt.
Steep - just like tea, in order to get the flavor and color from your grain in an extract/grain batch of beer, soaking the grain in warm water will get you much of the character of your beer.
Mash - when you ad your hot water to your grain it is called your mash. If you have ever made Oat Meal, Grits, or Cream of Wheat, you have made a mash before, you probably just never used too much water and collected it to drink later.
Single Infusion Mash - the strike water is added at the beginning of the mash time and the temperature is held during the entire mashing process.
Step Mash - a more complex mashing program where the strike temperature is low and gradually increases over time during the mashing process. For instance you may start at 113°F for the first 15 min, then increase the mash temp to 150°F for the next 50 min and finish the last 10 minutes at 168°F. When viewed on a temp over time chart this looks like steps.
Protein Rest - part of a step mash program. There are different proteins in your beer that will breakdown at certain temperatures during the mash and reduce haziness. Although most brewing grain these days are modified well enough (meaning the starches have already been turned to sugar and proteins have already been broken down), there are circumstances where a protein rest may still be needed.
Sparge - this is just a fancy word to describe the process of rinsing you grain in order to pull out more sugar, color and flavor. If you pour warm water over your bag of grain in a partial mash or grain/extract recipe it called sparging. Draining (Lautering) your mash while you add water at the same rate you are draining is called fly sparging. Draining your mash, then adding a bunch more water, then draining again is called batch sparging.
Strike water - this is the preheated water you add to your grain in the mash.
Hot liquor tank (HLT) - this is a bit misleading since there is no alcohol involved. It really should be called a hot water tank. It is any vessel that holds your preheated water to be used for you mash or your sparge.
Boil Kettle - a big stock pot for boiling your wort and adding hops and other adjuncts such as coriander, orange peel, pumpkin, etc.
Lautering - draining the liquid from your mash.
Mash/Lauter tun - a mash tun is any vessel (commonly a kettle or a cooler) that holds your mash. A lauter tun is any vessel used to drain the liquid from your mash, which in homebrewing is the same vessel as the mash tun. These names can be used interchangeably or combined. It is often referred to as an MLT. Most MLTs use either a false bottom (shown below) or manifold to separate the wort from the grain.
Wort - often pronounced wert, it is the sugary liquid that will eventually turn to beer after yeast is added and it is fermented.
Racking - transferring your beverage by siphoning.
Pitching - referring to yeast it just means adding.
Pitch Rate - the ratio between the amount of yeast you are adding to the density and volume of your wort.
Flocculation - how much yeast will stay in suspension.
Attenuation - how much sugar the yeast will eat before falling out of suspension.
Specific Gravity - a measurement of density of liquid. Hydrometers are an inexpensive and reliable way to read your Gravity.
Original gravity - the density of liquid before fermentation. Abbreviated O.G.
Final gravity - the density of liquid after fermentation. Abbreviated F.G. This number will be lower than the O.G. since alcohol is less dense than water.
Plato - another measurement of density similar to Specific Gravity. Often used to yeast pitch rate calculations.